Review – The Judge
Taking a break from what has been a hugely successful and lucrative run as Tony Stark in various Marvel films, Robert Downey Jnr starred alongside Robert Duvall in this 2014 drama. The film is the first production by RDJ’s production company co-created with his wife Susan – Team Downey.
The film is directed by David Dobkin, whose previous work largely focusses on comedies such as Fred Claus, The Change Up, Wedding Crashers and the disastrous RIPD. The film is written by Nic Schenk (Gran Torino) and Bill Dubuque (who went onto write the recent Ben Affleck film The Accountant)
RDJ plays Henry Palmer, a successful lawyer who has made a name for himself defending well paid clients. Outside from his career though, he is struggling with a limited relationship with his daughter and a fast failing marriage.
Palmer returns to his hometown in Indiana following the death of his mother to attend the funeral, a place that he has not visited for over 20 years. His return finds him not only dealing with the various relationships with his family and former girlfriend, but then faced with the news that his father has been charged with murder.
Also in the cast as Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong as the two brothers of Palmer, Vera Farming as his ex girlfriend and Billy Bob Thornton as the prosecuting lawyer in the case of his father.
The performances of Downey Jnr and Duvall alone justify the viewing of the film, which ultimately works well as a moving family drama and courtroom thriller. The film is reminiscent of a combination of Hope Floats, August : Osage County and My Cousin Vinny
Duvall’s oscar nominated performance is outstanding and it’s hard to come up with a recent performance of his that is of the same level. Much the same with Downey Jnr whose early scenes feel akin to Tony Stark as a lawyer, but this is quickly forgotten.
The film is very well put together and although a little formulaic, is a touching story about a father and son, and about knowing who you really are.